I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Money absolutely gives you options to participate in things that make you happy — but money itself won’t make you happy since it’s just a tool. How, then, should you invest in order to have the happiest retirement possible?
According to retirement researcher and expert Michael Finke, some of the biggest happiness drivers don’t have anything to do with your 401(k).
While you can’t ignore focusing on your savings goal, you also need to make investments in two critical areas — your health and your community — to help ensure your retirement years provide you with the happiness you seek. Also, it’s important to think long and hard about the big purchases you make as a retiree, because poor spending decisions can lead to retirement dissatisfaction.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these important retirement happiness factors.
Health. Imagine working hard for decades hoping to retire and spend time pursuing your favorite activities — only to have your dreams crushed by bad health. Certainly our health declines as we get older and accidents can always occur.
But, investing in your health may be one of your best shots at enjoying the trips, activities and hobbies that bring you the most happiness. Note that this doesn’t mean you have to frequent the gym every day or have a six-pack — although having a personal trainer or gym membership is money well spent. Research says simply being able to be mobile without assistance is the definition of being healthy.
Community. The second leading cause of retirement dissatisfaction is not having a community of close friends. This can be a significant issue for those leaving corporate jobs, as they lose some or even all of their social connections, something that’s tied to a significant rise in depression.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a close circle of friends and family close by, that’s great, but if not, you really need to cultivate your own community. You may want to rethink retirement communities, which used to be stigmatized but now can offer a resort-like lifestyle that includes plenty of friend-building activities.
Big Spending. Some retirees dream about buying a second home, sailboat or RV once their work days are behind them — but would you believe large purchases are the third leading cause of retirement dissatisfaction? Unfortunately, perception is often better than reality if you spend in the wrong categories.
Think very carefully about how any big purchase will affect your life before pulling the trigger. For instance, the idea of tooling around the country in an RV might sound appealing — but are you ready to deal with what it actually entails? On the flip side, something some would consider a vanity purchase — like a classic car — can actually be a smart buy for retirees, since it can provide a social benefit like belonging to a car club.
I hope this has given you some food for thought regarding non-monetary investments to make toward your retirement. And since you shouldn’t neglect planning for your financial future as well, feel free to contact me to talk about doing that.
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